Rinko Kawauchi: Seeing Shadow

December 21, 2018–March 31, 2019

In her photography and video practice, Rinko Kawauchi transforms the mundane world into the embodiment of purity and simplicity. While creating work for the Brighton Photo Biennial 2010 in England, Kawauchi was transfixed by the sight of a flock of starlings moving in the sky above the water at Brighton beach, and subsequently made this video Seeing Shadow. She shot the video from a fixed point, without moving the camera or “zooming.” The sweeping motion of the flock, shot without sound, is almost hypnotic. Meanwhile, the changes in patterns of grouping evoke the strength within wild lives.

According to Kawauchi, the work’s title connotes both her observation of nature and the history of the Japanese language. The origin of the word “mirror” in Japanese indicates the act of seeing shadows. The artist’s experience of observing a flock of birds as if a shadow moved in the sky also served as a source of inspiration for this title.

Trained in graphic design, Kawauchi worked as a commercial photographer before becoming a fine arts photographer and more recently a video maker. She is one of a number of younger Japanese women photographers whose aesthetic is based on ordinary objects and occurrences.

—Doris Yixuan Tang '21


Image (video still): Rinko KAWAUCHI. Born Japan, 1972. Seeing Shadow. 2012. Single-channel video, without sound, 14:50 min. Purchased.